A Plea To Australia’s Government

This is an open letter to Australia’s leaders regarding Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Russia, China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia. The countries which we need to treat with diplomacy are the easiest for us to annoy and they’re all friends. On the map they make an arrow shape, a gigantic wedge formation pointed at our shores. Indonesia has ten times our population. Russia and China? Well.

Today’s actions were horrible. Someone has brought a piece of human progress crashing down, full of people, using an advanced human weapon. The Netherlands and Australia are both moderate sized countries and though we both bleed, they are far more wounded than us. The fairness to admit that is an Aussie trait which brings us pride.

But we can’t hurl angry words like we did today. Maybe we could talk tough if war were on our doorstep, the way Belgium and Poland did when they realised they would be the first little countries smashed in each World War. Maybe we could put an impressive gouge in a far bigger enemy, like they did before they were swallowed. But now is not the time for tough talk because now is not the time to gain respect like a doomed country that still holds up its fists. This tragedy will give us a small leverage over the giant Russia, if they’re even responsible. Malaysia Airlines should never have flown over a war zone. Most of all, we need friends in the area because we need to investigate.

Now is the time for diplomacy.

If we survive another century, we’ll do it by becoming great diplomats. There’s a Second World arrow cutting us off from our allies. Although we have some of the world’s best soldiers, we must use peace and negotiation as the superweapons they are.

Who loses if we increase tensions over this? Ukraine. The Netherlands look bad because we’re speaking for the victims. Everyone, if it comes to war.  Economically, the whole world loses whether or not there’s a fight. We Westerners don’t know if we can take them, but we Australians know we’ll get our brave Poland moment when they roll over us before help can arrive.

This future is far more realistic than it sounds today. After the Cold War, Russia held onto its friends outside Europe, like China, the anti-Western Sharia states and the dictatorships of North Africa. Since the Arab Spring knocked down more of those pieces, they’d be wise to stay friendly with Muslim states like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bahrain who share many Russian ideologies. Few people know that parts of Southern India are Communist and though the Cold War is gone, many of its faded battle lines are still in place. Even if we try to improve the hard, stubborn diplomatic tactics that have done Australia more harm than good in Asia, Russia may still beat us at the diplomacy game. We could have half the world’s weapons pointed at us because we puffed out our chests at the wrong time.

At least 11 Indonesians were on board the plane which Malaysia lost. We Pacific nations have a common cause in this tragedy. For the sake of our future, let’s look to those commonalities and use this crisis for good, not for the aggressive words that our current government tends to favour. We citizens have confidence that you, our leaders, can see a higher cause than scrambling over each other to look like the strongest leader. Remember China and France in WWII. Partisan politics tore those mighty countries apart and their opponents crushed them with no effort because of it.

Since so much charred, exploding human progress is in the middle of this conflict, let’s compensate by making human progress. Let’s aim for peace and keep Asia’s fury away. For all our sakes, don’t poke the bear.

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